During the course of its history in the industry, IMA has always worked to ensure that its production could be a means of generating a positivesocial impact on the local territory. At the same time, IMA’s suppliers are require to keep a high level of quality and sustainability.
To increase the added value of its offer, IMA uses selected partners and suppliers, actively involving them in the processes of designing, manufacturing and assembling the machines and monitors along the entire chain the high quality standards and technical and regulatory requirements that have to be met.
The goal is to share rigorous methods and standards so that the successes can be shared as well. In the choice of suppliers, IMA guarantees absolute impartiality and undertakes to comply strictly with the agreed terms of payment (all purchases have always been regulated according to the agreements). In particular, production-related suppliers are also selected on the basis of a criterion of “proximity” which favours, among other things, partner companies in product innovation that operate in the local production cluster.
THE IMA MODEL FOR MANAGING THE SUPPLY CHAIN
IMA’s approach to the supply chain has always been innovative, developing over time an unconventional model. Many of the close ties established by IMA over the years are found within the local industrial district, especially in Italy. These relationships sometimes take the form of minority investments (up to 30% of the share capital) in certain subcontractors, allowing IMA to cope better with the challenges related to growth. These investments, based on the win-win partnership logic, serve to support the network of small local businesses, an active part of the process of innovation promoted by IMA: they are financial and strategic interventions, which strengthen the cohesion of the production system and integrate the innovative potential of local players. This model, which is perfectly consistent with the logic of Industry 4.0, provides support to invest in new machinery and production tools and to develop the organizational and IT typical of this new industrial revolution. In particular, IMA is working along three guidelines with its most important suppliers:
• dematerialization; • control of production scheduling; • 3D and Additive Manufacturing.
All this translates into projects that are already operational, ranging from the implementation of an integrated ERP system that also covers the supply chain (online tools for the receipt of purchase orders and engineering drawings), to collaboration on Additive Manufacturing projects, that will completely innovate design and construction methods for automated machine components.
The objective in the coming years is to further increase the collaborative logic between client and supply chain. By way of a confirmation of this objective, in 2020 there was a further increase in strategic suppliers partially owned by IMA and a further pilot project was implemented to extend to one of them the order management IT platform, with a view to further integrating and streamlining the various levels of manufacturing processes of IMA’s own Supply Chain.
MAIN STAGES IN THE PRODUCTION OF AUTOMATIC MACHINES: THE IMA MODEL
Research & Development, a core activity for the Group, is carried out internally. However, certain design work on details, electrical circuits and software may be outsourced, especially at times of peak work.
This is the operational phase that is easiest to outsource. In the case of mechanical parts, the creation and management of a network of subcontractors able to guarantee the delivery times and quality required is of fundamental importance. As regards commercial components, the strategic decision is to combine purchasing and storage at a single central structure.
Some parts of the assembly process (such as mechanical assembly of the basic machine, wiring of the standard electrical panel) can be outsourced to reduce production lead-times.
Subcontractors are unlikely to bring added value in this phase because it involves the fine-tuning of mechanical movements, motion control and verifying compliance with the customers’ specifications.
IMA works with different types of suppliers:
• manufacturers of components for the production of machines, which in turn are divided into:
– custom-designed component suppliers, supplying components on the basis of drawings and projects prepared by IMA;
– catalogue component (“commercial”) suppliers, who provide components that are available in manufacturers’ catalogues;
• project suppliers, for goods and services closely related to customers’ projects, such as assembly, design, third-party machinery;
• other suppliers (so-called non-manufacturing suppliers).
BREAKDOWN OF MANUFACTURING SUPPLIERS IN ITALY AND IN THE WORLD BY TYPE IN 2020 (% of expenditure)
Considering the purchases made in 2020 by IMA companies based in Italy and in the rest of the world, without calculating the costs incurred for VAT, customs, employees, vehicles and agents, the sales revenue paid to local suppliers amounted to 92%11. At regional level, the amount for Italy was 93.3%, for Europe 89.7%, for the Americas 69.2% and for Asia 97.8%. These figures demonstrate the value created by IMA for its territory and the local production cluster. The best companies with which IMA works are in fact rewarded by remaining partners for several years, allowing them to capitalize on the investments they have made in production technologies. The low “rate of change/replacement” is therefore the salient feature of the relationship between IMA and its suppliers. In this way IMA establishes preferential relationships based on the duration of the collaboration and on mutual loyalty.